Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Talk about a waste of my fucking time.

Hadn't slept all night. Don't know why. I left home at 8:30 this morning; took a taxi to the Lotte Hotel and managed to catch the airport limousine bus that was to leave around 9am. Got to the airport around 10:15 or so. Asked around for where to take the shuttle bus to go to the FedEx office (by the way, never say "Federal Express"; even when you pronounce the name with a Korean accent, no one understands, so just say p'aedek-seu [FedEx]). Caught the shuttle bus around 10:40; stepped off the bus around 10:55. I walked across a huge field of pavement to the FedEx office, which was on first floor of a huge air cargo terminal. Reminded me of Northwest Air Cargo, where my dad used to work. A bunch of guys were clustered around a small, makeshift, tin-box office; I showed the dudes my FedEx tracking number.

"Go upstairs to the second floor," they said.

I went upstairs, finally found the office, and met the lady I talked with yesterday, the one who told me there was a problem because of the damn beef jerky. I had to wait a few minutes while she got some forms ready for me. I sat still and just aged. I received the requisite forms, then had to go back downstairs to the guys at that desk. I apparently had to wait for my package to be brought out, and then I was supposed to perform the humiliating task of removing the offending beef jerky (you'll recall that Customs wouldn't allow it through) myself. One guy sliced open the already-sliced-open-and-retaped box. I rummaged through the goods and removed the illegal substance. I then had to go back upstairs again and get another set of goddamn forms. These forms, however, had to be taken over to a completely different office. "I think it's in this building," said the lady. Turned out the office was in a totally different building, a ten-minute walk away. Because it was now noon, everyone was going to lunch, so I had to wait a fucking hour before I could visit that building with my forms.

At one o'clock, after walking aimlessly around one of the huge parking lots for an hour, I went to the appropriate office and handed my forms over to some dude, who made copies of them and stamped them. I thought I had to sign something, but in the end I signed nothing. By 1:20 or so, I was back in the second-floor FedEx office with those forms, which I handed over. "Good! You're done!" the lady said. She made sympathetic noises about how long I'd had to wait and how it must have been expensive to bus in from Seoul. I was pretty fucking pissed off by the end of all this nonsense, so I went downstairs to get my package.

I approached the desk guys again. "I'm here for my package," I said.

"Do you have a form?" they asked. I had no form.

"Just a minute," one guy said, and he went upstairs. Good-- I had thought that I would be going upstairs yet again. He finally came back down, but said nothing. Then the first-floor desk phone rang.

"It's for you," said the other desk guy.

It was the lady from the second floor.

"Didn't I tell you? You can't get the package today! It still has to go through Customs! You'll get the package tomorrow!" I hung up. This was too much. I should have asked whether I would still have to pay a fucking W30,000 delivery fee, but in my fury I was just intent on leaving the FedEx building before I hurt someone.

I got back home around 4pm. What a fucking waste of my fucking time. So I suppose the package will pass through Customs and be delivered tomorrow. If that driver tells me I have to pay a fee, I'm just going to tell him to take the goddamn package back. If he tries to argue with me, I'm going to shove that fucking box right up his ass.

Yesterday, Jelly emailed me with her sympathies and said:

I just got a package from Belgium last week - and it included REINDEER meat,....and that managed to get through.

Lovely. I love the consistent enforcement. And as I've received beef jerky before (there were problems with that shipment, too, but everything arrived in the end), I can only assume one of three things: (1) the law's been changed recently; (2) the law hasn't been changed, but it's being enforced willy-nilly; (3) the FedEx and Customs people are playing, as writer Mark Salzman calls it, Let's Make a Regulation, a game Salzman encountered frequently while living in China. This is a game where people just make shit up to fuck with you. I'm betting on (3), personally.

OK... I gotta cool down. But understand: bullshit of this sort happens to me every goddamn motherfucking time someone tries to send me a package, so I think I have a right to be pissed off.

Tell you what, folks: just don't send anything. It's not worth the hassle.


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